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Ethical decision making in the medical profession: An application of the theory of planned behavior

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The present study applied Ajzen's (1985) theory of planned behavior to the explanation of ethical decision making. Nurses in three hospitals were provided with scenarios that depicted inadequate patient care and asked if they would report health professionals responsible for the situation. Study results suggest that the theory of planned behavior can explain a significant amount of variation in the intent to report a colleague. Attitude toward performing the behavior explained a large portion of the variance; subjective norms explained a moderate amount of the variance; and, perceived behavioral control added little to the explanation of variance. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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Donna M. Randall is an Associate Professor in Management and Systems at Washington State University. Her research interests include organizational commitment, media coverage of elite crime, and ethical issues in management. Her publications have appeared in such journals as Decision Sciences, Academy of Management Review, and Journal of Business Ethics.

Annetta M. Gibson is a doctoral student in the Department of Accounting and Business Law at Washington State University and a CPA. Her research interests lie in the area of behavioral accounting and ethical issues in auditing, accounting, and management. She has published in the Journal of Business Ethics.

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Randall, D.M., Gibson, A.M. Ethical decision making in the medical profession: An application of the theory of planned behavior. J Bus Ethics 10, 111–122 (1991).

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